The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 32: Dragonfire

Update 32: Dragonfire

Last time, Bryson II found a few nice randarts and a bunch of crappy ones, and started working on repairing her abominable CON score. Let's pick up where we left off!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2400')

Always nice when a level doesn't want to kill us as soon as we arrive.

Hellhounds are always such a pain. At least we don't have to engage them in melee, and we can achieve a minor speed advantage. That Shadow (the G) is also a threat -- their melee drains experience, INT, and WIS. Fortunately, our Ring of Intelligence sustains INT (all stat rings also sustain the stat), so our most important stat is safe, but it's still no fun to be in melee range with these guys, and there's not a lot of open space to work with.

Also, note Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings to the south with his Easterling Champion escort. Lorgan is still immune to all elements, but we have 3 Wands of Drain Life now with 12 charges between them; that should be enough to kill him.

Lorgan wakes up just as we're mopping up the last of the Hellhounds:

You have 8 charges remaining. Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings grunts with pain. Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings summons some friends.

Lorgan is friends with a giant louse, a mushroom patch, and a mummy. Oookay. A fireball and an acid bolt kill off the chumps and set the Cave Troll to flight.

That ends up being the only interesting thing he does. 8 zaps from our wands and a couple of Magic Missiles later, Lorgan dies. But he leaves us some presents! A Shovel of Earthquakes, and two randarts!

Elemental immunities seem to show up a bit more often on randarts than on standarts, or maybe it's just that the standarts that have immunities tend to be really rare. Anyway, this dagger does give poison resistance and cold immunity, which are both nice...but I'm not convinced that it's worth losing the stat bonuses from our pick. Still, worth carrying as a swap if nothing else.

This is an easy replacement for our Amulet of Regeneration. Much as I love regeneration, +4 CON is waaaaay more important. We gain 30 HP from equipping it (up to 204 HP), and we're that much closer to the really big HP gains.

Thanks, Lorgan! You're all right.

This Cyclops, however, is a dick. They're immune to everything except for lightning, and Lightning Bolt is not exactly big damage these days. And their boulders hurt! It's barely worth the 2k experience we get from killing him, with all the curing potions we have to go through.

The rest of the level is uneventful, though we do find another Ancient Dragon to fight:

It doesn't even scratch us

We also find a Ring of Constitution <+3>, and I experiment with wearing it instead of our Ring of Intelligence. This raises our CON to 18/20 (237 HP), but drops our INT to 18/208, which doesn't affect our SP at all but does increase our spell failure rates slightly. But only for Detect Treasure, Word of Recall, Greater Recharging, and Elemental Brand. Who cares if we screw up casting one of those? I'd rather have the extra HP.

We're done here, and after five castings of Stair Creation we finally get a down staircase.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2450')

These adventurers aren't anything special, but we are in an open room, which makes me a bit antsy. Door Creation to the rescue!

Much cozier. There aren't many mindless monsters that could pose a threat on our first turn on a level, but why take chances?

Ooh, that Ethereal Dragon to the south could be trouble. They can move through walls, and have a lot of HP, a confusing melee attack, and breathe both light and darkness. Fortunately we have resistance to both elements and protection from confusion, so careful play should be able to deal with this guy if he ever wakes up. Which is good, because unresisted his breath attacks deal over 300 damage when he's at full health. Yikes.

Our adventurer friends in this room are kind enough to give us a Potion of Wisdom. Incidentally, you might have noticed that our randarts that boost INT also boost WIS -- I'm pretty sure this always happens this way, as the devs threw up their hands at trying to determine the power levels of those two stats independently. Randart weapons that give WIS bonuses are also always blessed, so priests don't get completely screwed in the weapon department.

I get antsy about that Ethereal Dragon and decide to make a pre-emptive strike. Better to deal with him now in an arena of my choosing than later when we might be facing other foes.

All set. He's just outside telepathy range, but we're lined up perfectly, so time to start the artillery. If he does breathe, we can step out of LOS and heal up. We lead off with our Wand of Acid Balls; he's not immune and they're good damage.

You have 0 charges remaining. The Ethereal dragon grunts with pain.

40% dead! Time to switch to casting Acid Bolt.

The Ethereal dragon grunts with pain. The Ethereal dragon breathes light. You resist the effect!

Only 60 damage; he can't put out big numbers now that he's taken damage, and our resistance helps chop the damage down further.

The Ethereal dragon cries out in pain. The Ethereal dragon flees in terror!

Angband's brilliant AI in action again -- he could just take a step into the walls and we'd be unable to hit him with anything, but instead he flees straight away from us. Suits me fine!

The Ethereal dragon cries out feebly.
The Ethereal dragon dies.

and 13.6k experience too! These guys are no joke to fight in tight quarters, especially if you don't have protection from confusion. His drop included a chest which had a Potion of Constitution (245 max HP!). Our internal CON stat is still just 11, but thanks to all the equipment boosts we've stacked on, we're up to 18/30, which is pretty respectable.

And then we find out what is lying south of the Ethereal Dragon's lair:

You see Kavlax, the Many-Headed.

Nope. Still not fighting you! Too much chance of things going horribly, horribly wrong. We don't resist his chaos, nexus, shards, or gravity breaths, which can all deal almost all of our HP in a single shot -- plus gravity would stun and slow us. Gotta have a lot more HP and speed before Kavlax is worth considering.

Off we go in the other direction, and

You see Gorlim, Betrayer of Barahir.

Ugggh. The problem with Gorlim is that he's a fast spellcaster whose only spells are Cause Critical Wounds, Mana Bolt, and Water Bolt, and they all hurt. We could probably kill him with Drain Life charges, but only if we got lucky on his spells, and we'd have to burn through an awful lot of Healing potions. He's really not worth fighting.

The rest of the level is a bit empty. We do score a Potion of Strength and a Wand of Cold Balls, though. Cold Balls doesn't do quite as much damage as Acid Balls (100 vs. 125), but it's still welcome support...especially since our Acid Balls wand explodes when we cast Greater Recharging on it Oh well. Next level!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2500')

We're halfway there! But we have a lot of catching up to do before we're ready to face Sauron or Morgoth. Gotta get more HP! And more spellbooks!

For this level I finally remember to use one of our five Potions of Enlightenment. Sadly, there's not much on offer...though there is a pit of some kind to our east. Only problem: a horde of multihued dragons between us and it:

Fortunately most of them are babies. We can easily plink them down with Magic Missiles.

Next, the Mature Multihued Dragon who is presumably mother of the brood. By positioning her right at the edge of LOS, we not only maximize the number of turns we get before she reaches melee range; we also eliminate the possibility of a random beam effect from our spells accidentally waking up one of the Young Multihued Dragons behind her. Remember, each of our bolt spells can randomly beam instead, which hits every target along a line. Usually getting a free beam from your Acid Bolt or whatever is a pleasant bonus, but when you're trying to play stealthily it can be counterproductive. Unfortunately there's no way to turn that off.

It takes 27 Magic Missiles, but the lady dies without doing anything. That lets us get close enough to detect the pit:

Another caster pit! The Sorcerers in those things have chased us off twice already. The problem is they move very fast (+20 speed), cast spells often, and don't really have any dud spells.

Also, I dug up the data files, and it looks like that whole "casters drop spellbooks often" thing is actually "casters are coded to drop specific spellbooks". In particular, Sorcerers can only drop Incantations and Illusions, and Sorcery and Evocations, the top two town spellbooks. But that's useless to us. Oh well, we'll just leave this pit alone.

On the plus side, we find something we can kill:

Azog, King of the Uruk-Hai! Ultimate orc! He has no ranged abilities! Oh man, he is so screwed.

Eat fireballs, orc!

Azog, King of the Uruk-Hai grunts with pain. 5 Uruks scream in pain. The Uruk screams in agony. 6 Uruks cry out in pain. The Half-orc cries out in pain. The Cave orc screams in pain. 5 Uruks flee in terror! The Cave orc flees in terror!

Man, that's gratifying. We finish everyone off with Acid Bolts; Azog barely makes it to melee range before toppling over. His drop: White Dragon Scale Mail, and this:

Well, that's a pretty straight upgrade to our Hard Leather Cap of Telepathy I mean, the most relevant new abilities are the extra AC (and the fact that AC can't be reduced by acid), but oh well. The activation is the same as for a Mushroom of Stoneskin; is this crown covered in shrooms?

Also, Azog's escorts had a Potion of Constitution (253 max HP)! A good haul for minimal effort. This is why exploring deeper in the dungeon is so profitable.

The rest of the level doesn't have anything, aside from the fact that Gorlim is back again. Go away, Gorlim! Come back when we have more hitpoints.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2550')

Whelp. The red D is Smaug the Golden. Flavor text:

Smaug is one of the Uruloki that still survive, a fire-drake of immense cunning and intelligence. His speed through air is matched by few other dragons and his dragonfire is what legends are made of; he is believed to be the greatest dragon still surviving into the Third Age.

The timeline of this game is kind of whacked, since we have all of Tolkein's various Ages represented. Oh well. Smaug's fire breath hits 800 unresisted, which means 266 resisted...and we have 253 HP. So if we did want to fight him, we'd have to take off a good chunk of HP in the first blow just in case he wakes up cranky. Mm, might be worthwhile. Our Drain Life wands are a bit low, though, and there's the other monsters to worry about too: besides Smaug, there's another Ethereal Dragon and a Death Knight in residence.

Enlightenment reveals a Scroll of *Destruction* and another Wand of Acid Balls elsewhere on the level. No stat potions though, alas. We head elsewhere in the level to pick those up while mulling the Smaug issue.

Oh hey, Lokkak. You'll serve as a good distraction. The fight goes as you might expect, considering that the only monster present with ranged attack ability is an Ogre Shaman. Alas, nothing good drops.

In this small labyrinth we have our first conclusive encounter with a Sorcerer. His only damage is via melee. How bizarre. Why does a mage-type enemy have 3x 2d8 melee attacks anyway?

Looping back around towards Smaug again, we find a Death Drake (the green D):

The sticking point with these guys is the 300-damage nether breath. We don't resist nether. They can also go through walls. We'll just let this guy be; he doesn't need to be woken up.

Finally, we return to Smaug & co:

First things first, that Enchantress in the south gets teleported away. No summoning more dragons while we're dealing with this lot.

The Enchantress disappears!

Conveniently, her escort drops a Potion of Intelligence! Back up to 18/213; we're almost maxed out!

Now we have to deal with the Ethereal Dragon. The problem with wallwalkers like him is making certain they stay out of the walls so we can hit them. I dig us a corridor lined up with him:

In the process, I discover we have another notable presence on the level:

It's the Balrog of Moria! Screw fighting that guy! Too many summoning spells, and his firebreath has one hell of a kick. Fortunately, we shouldn't need to Phase Door for this fight. Unfortunately, he wakes up while we're recharging from casting all those Stone to Mud spells...ehh, Balrog, you need to go.

The wall turns into mud!
The Balrog of Moria disappears!

No more problem.

Next, the Ethereal Dragon. Again, we lead off with Acid Balls and then follow up with Acid Bolts when those run out. This time, though, when it turns to flee, I discover that Ethereal Dragons can't move through walls. Whoops! Instead, they're just invisible, but we never noticed.

Right, time for the main event!

First step: hit him with Drain Life to bring him below instadeath ability. Each Drain Life hit should deal 219 damage, cutting off 73 base damage (24 resisted damage) from his breath weapon. So if he breathes on his first awake turn, instead of overkilling us by 13 damage as he would were he at full health, we'll still have 11 HP left over! That's plenty!

You have 1 charge remaining. Smaug the Golden grunts with pain. Smaug the Golden breathes fire. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** One of your Scrolls titled "spentis hema" of Phase Door was destroyed!

See? 11 HP left, just like I said. No problem.

Oh god oh god oh god where's the healing potions

You feel very good. You have 6 Dark Red Potions of Healing.

Fortunately, Smaug doesn't breathe again for a bit; we're able to discharge all of our Drain Life, Acid Balls, and Cold Balls wands into him, at which point he's 90% dead and we easily push him over the edge with Acid Bolt spells. Smaug only resists fire, conveniently.

Welcome to level 34. Smaug the Golden dies.

(257 HP, 273 SP)

Unfortunately his drop is rather anemic: two magical picks, some Arrows of Slay Evil, and this scythe:

Not a very interesting end to a rather interesting fight. Oh well, we've gotten plenty of nice equipment upgrades today.

Naturally, recharging blows up the Acid Balls wand again. At least our Drain Life wands survived.

We head back to town to drop off some consumables and check on the Black Market again, and it's a good thing we do, too:

Naturally no dungeon spellbooks, but he's got a nice prayer book for us! Screw you, Drago. However, the Shield of Resistance is still there; we can afford it easily and finally replace our old magical Wicker Shield. And the *Healing* potion is a no-brainer. We're up to 4 of those already. Finally, take a look at that wand!

Whoof, 200 base damage! And they're only level-50 wands, so we get an extra 48% on top of that. These things hurt! Kinda anemic on the charges though.

Annoyingly, the Temple has no curing potions, so we're stuck with our current supply. It's enough -- 9 Cure Serious Wounds and 6 Cure Critical Wounds -- but I'd rather eliminate the Cure Serious Wounds potions in favor of more Cure Critical Wounds.

You feel yourself yanked downwards! (back to 2550')

Whoah. This has got to be a labyrinth level. Lots of trolls; there's a Troll Chieftan to the west, and Rogrog the Black Troll is the, well, black T to our southeast. Still, none of these look too threatening. We'll want to teleport away the Vampire Lord, but one nice thing about labyrinth levels is that non-wallwalkers have trouble reaching you much of the time, so he should leave us alone once we do that.

Right. Rogrog is the biggest troll unique in the game. Flavor text:

A massive and cruel troll of great power, drool slides caustically down his muscular frame. Despite his bulk, he strikes with stunning speed.

I'd expect him to be immune to acid considering he has an acidic spit attack, but no, he's just immune to cold. Simplifies my life.

Unfortunately, these confines prove a bad arena to fight Rogrog in; he can close to melee far too easily (he pushes past weaker trolls), and the labyrinth means we just can't sit back and pelt him as he walks up to us. Should've set up a long firing line before waking him up; oh well.

Then he gets stuck on the walls:

I guess the path to us is too long. Well, it gives us a chance to rest up and set up some better terrain. Finally, after far too many Acid Bolts, he dies. 2000 HP takes a long time to wear down 15d8 at a time! Ahh, but it's all worth it, because:

2 more base speed!

And a Crossbow of Regeneration! The weak frostbrand is interesting -- all shots fired with this crossbow will get something like an extra x1 damage against non-frost-resistant enemies. It's still not a great killing-things bow, but that's alright.

A bit to the south, we find Vargo, Tyrant of Fire:

And just turn right around and leave him be. Vargo's a pain in the ass to fight at the best of times, and I'd really like us to have more heavy artillery (that can hit him; he's immune to Drain Life and Dragon's Flame) before taking him on. And more HP of course; his plasma bolts can do a lot of damage.

Quaker, Master of Earth is no trouble though. He only moves at normal speed, has a glaring acid vulnerability, and his spells are infrequent and manageable.

Quaker, Master of Earth writhes in agony.
Quaker, Master of Earth dissolves!

Also, he's weak to Stone to Mud Crap damage-to-mana ratio, but a fun way to finish the fight. Being an elemental, he has no drop.

Next level!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2600')

I use a Potion of Enlightenment, and

New spellbook! Way off to our northwest. Well, we know where we're headed!

One problem:

This pack of Plasma Hounds could easily kill us. Their breath weapon isn't that strong, but it causes stunning and is unresistable; they're also fast and have enough HP that we can't chew through them very easily.

Well, the main problem is that they're all in a group where they can mass their fire. There's an easy fix for that.

The Plasma hound disappears!

(Repeat 6 more times)

Individually, they should be no threat.

Anyway, who cares? We made it!

You have a Book of Magic Spells [Resistances of Scarabtarices].

New spells!

We're only ever going to cast Resistance and maybe Shield, but this is still pretty dang useful! Temporary resistance to an element stacks with permanent resistance; if you have both, then you only take 1/9th normal damage, which pretty much neuters most elemental attacks. We still don't have a source of permanent poison resistance either, so Resistance can be handy for covering that angle.

As for Shield, ehh, why would we want to stand in melee range? Eventually we'll have to because we'll be fighting summoners, but until then this spell won't see much use.

And at this point, we've found all but two of the dungeon spellbooks in the game. The two remaining are, of course, the two that have more offensive spells for us to cast But that's okay! We're managing without them...mostly.

Nothing else of interest on the level, aside from Kalvax (again) and finding a Scroll of Banishment, which could come in handy. This seems like a good place to stop for now.

Next time: maybe we find Raal's Tome of Destruction? Please? Nice RNG